There’s a line of thinking many people have out there, that sales is an unnecessary profession.

“After all,” the haters will say, “If people need something, they’ll call you and ask for it. Why do you have to bother people?”

That is a particularly nefarious piece of brain poison if you start to believe it. I call it the “sales leper” syndrome. Believing that leads to call avoidance, less activity and hence less sales results. It also happens to be completely untrue.

Yes, occasionally, I determine with precision and accuracy exactly what I want or need, and I drive to the store or order it online. But that is the exception, not the rule. In a great big and complex world, most of us DON”T KNOW what we need. Sometimes we may think we do. Usually, we have a sense of what an obstacle or a problem is, but not what the best solution or approach is. Knowing that is called expertise, and expertise is valuable.

For example. Imagine you need to remove a screw, but the head is stripped and it’s sunken in enough that no screwdriver or pliers in your toolbox can remove it. Now what? The sales leper myth implies that in such a situation, you know what you want, and you don’t need some sales person bothering you with suggestions. But what you want is for that darn screw to come out, and the limits of your expertise have got you stuck. OK, there’s probably a tool for that. So you look it up online and guess what? There isn’t one tool for that scenario, there are 35 tools for that. Which is the best one for your situation? Which one is a rip off and doesn’t work at all?

Somewhere out there is a salesperson who sells THE exact perfect tool for your situation. He also has the expertise to be able to advise you on not only the best tool, but the best procedure for removing the screw without damaging anything else.

People know what they want? No, “They” don’t know most of the time.

Never accept the premise that the world around you has the same expertise that you do about your product/solution. A few people might, but most do not. What seems easy and obvious to you is hard for someone else, be it a physical job or filling out an insurance form. Your expertise has value. You may see potential challenges and problems that your prospective customers do not see, again, because you have expertise.

People might know what they want, in the sense that they seek a desired result, but most of the time people don’t know HOW to get to that desired result. That’s where you come in.